Can we improve the approach taken to teaching medical students about hand hygiene?

Rajneesh Kaur 1, Husna Razee 1, Holly Seale 1

UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW


Introduction: Despite the well-recognised importance of education and training in improving hand hygiene (HH) compliance of medical students it is an increasingly neglected part of medical education. To date, there have been very few studies that have evaluated HH teaching approaches. This study aimed to prospectively evaluate the impact of a new HH training module for medical students.

Methods: A total of 96 medical students from Year 1 and 2 (18-22 years) were assessed at baseline on their knowledge and attitudes towards healthcare associated infections (HAIs) and hand hygiene. A HH teaching module was designed based on educational materials (targeted at trained medical professionals) used by the WHO and other patient safety organisations. Surveys were conducted at baseline (T0), 2 weeks (T1) and 9 months (T2) after completing the pretested training module. Data collected was analysed with paired tests and linesr mixed effects models using SPSS version 22.

Results: We found that the training module was associated with an increase in mean knowledge scores of HAIs (T0=19.7, T1=49.1, T2=48.5; P=0.03), HH (T0=23.5, T1=47.8, T2=47.6; P=0.02) including five moments of HH (T0=2.3, T1=5, T2=4.9; P=0.07) from baseline to the follow up surveys. Medical students’ attitudes towards HH also improved (T0=3.1, T1=5, T2=4.7; P=0.001). All students (100%) found the module acceptable and useful.
Conclusion: The findings of this work alongside other published work suggest that there is a need to change the approach to training in education, particularly to engage students in topics such as HH which are often seen as unimportant.

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